01 Jun

How Ethical Is ILYSM?

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How sustainable and ethical is ILYSM? Maker of the famous split-toe Tabi sneakers is making a start on sustainability but has some catching up to do for workers. This article is based on the ILYSM rating published in May 2022.

ILYSM is taking steps in the right direction

Community-driven sneaker brand ILYSM is known for its split-toe or “Tabi” sneakers in neutral and colourful silk and vegan ranges. On its About page, ILYSM says: “We bring balance and purpose to every step you take with beautiful materials, functional integrity, innovative technology, and sustainable practices.”

It sounds promising, but let’s step behind the scenes and see if the brand practices what it preaches regarding people, planet, and animal impact. How sustainable and ethical is ILYSM?

Environmental impact

ILYSM is making a start for the environment, reaching our middling score of “It’s a Start”. It uses a medium proportion of eco-friendly materials in its products, including recycled cotton and TENCEL™ Lyocell. While it doesn’t appear to minimise packaging or take any specific steps to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, its use of eco-friendly materials reduces its climate impact and limits the amount of chemicals, water, and wastewater used in production.

Labour conditions

The weakest area for ILYSM is labour conditions. Rated “Not Good Enough”, the brand doesn’t appear to have a Code of Conduct, though it has a formal statement covering worker’s rights and traces and visits suppliers in the final production stage. It sources its final stage of production from countries with extreme risk of labour abuse, like China. Although it states that “the average wage at our factory is 3.44x the minimum wage in Guangzhou, China”, there is no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage across its supply chain.

Animal welfare

Coming out on top is the brand’s animal welfare rating, reaching “Good”. ILYSM doesn’t use fur, leather, down, exotic animal skin, exotic animal hair, or angora. It uses wool and silk in some products, but most of its range is marketed as vegan-friendly.

Overall rating: It’s a Start

Overall, we have awarded ILYSM a score of “It’s a Start” overall based on our own research. With “up to 135 workers touching each sneaker during the assembly process”, we’d like to see evidence the brand supports every one of them. Increasing its proportion of eco-friendly materials and removing or tracing the animal-based ones would also help its sustainability journey.

Note that Good On You ratings consider hundreds of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.

See the rating.

If you want to shop more in line with your values, Good On You recommends you support brands that embrace a more ethical and sustainable fashion model. We’ve rounded up a few of our favourite similar brands to ILYSM.

Good swaps

“Good” and “Great” alternatives to ILYSM

Conscious Step

Rated: Good

Conscious Step creates premium fair trade, organic, vegan socks and clothes which support great charities. The US brand is committed to lasting social and environmental change and every step it takes in its production process supports farms and factories with fair wages, safe facilities, and sustainable materials.

The socks come in S-L sizes, and the clothes in 2XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Conscious Step.

Womsh

Rated: Good

Fashion and sustainability can go together and Womsh is the brand that proves it. Its shoes are entirely designed and manufactured in Italy, and its clothing range is made from eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton. Find most shoes in EU sizes 35-42, and clothes in XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Womsh.

CARIUMA

Rated: Good
yellow sustainable skate shoes by Cariuma brand

Offers

CARIUMA – Site-Wide

OCA boasted a 77K waitlist for a reason. These sneakers are handmade for comfort and durability, using premium natural materials. Get an exclusive 20% off with code GOODCARIUMA20. (Ends: 30 JAN)

Checkout code: GOODCARIUMA20
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CARIUMA is a sustainable Brazilian sneaker brand that wants you to feel super comfortable while providing effortless style in organic canvas, leather, and suede styles.

Find CARIUMA's shoes in US sizes 5-13.

See the rating.

Shop CARIUMA.

Shop CARIUMA @ Good.

Plant Faced Clothing

Rated: Good

Streetwear without sweatshops, that's the motto of this British 100% plant-based, ethical, eco-friendly, and cruelty-free streetwear apparel brand.

Buy Plant Faced Clothing in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Plant Faced Clothing.

Etiko

Rated: Great
person wearing blue and white ethical sneakers by Etiko

Offers

poster reading 'wear no evil' with pair of white trainers by Etiko.

Etiko – Site-wide

Genuinely responsibly-made t-shirts, socks, sneakers and undies: organic, eco-friendly and Fairtrade Certified. Get 10% off your first purchase with code HELLOFRIEND. (Ends: 7 FEB)

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Etiko is an Australian designer of organic fair trade clothing and shoes. The brand constantly sets the bar for upholding and campaigning the human rights of people working in traditionally exploitative industry supply chains.

Find the clothes in AU sizes 8-20, and the shoes in UK sizes 3-13.

See the rating.

Shop Etiko.

Afends

Rated: Good
two images of people in tops, shirts and trousers

Offers

Afends – Womenswear Archive Sale

Make a statement with organic hemp clothing that is as good on you as it is on the planet. Up to 50% off, including dresses, baby tees, pants, shorts, skits and more. (Ends: 31 JAN)

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Afends – Menswear Archive Sale

Where streetwear meets sustainability. Shop a complete wardrobe made from 100% lower-impact fabrics, from pants to tees and sweats, featuring a slew of prints. Up to 50% off menswear archive sale, including graphic tees, hoodies, jackets and pants. (Ends: 31 JAN)

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Bio acetate sunglasses designed by Afends.

Afends – Eyewear

Handcrafted in Italy from premium bio-acetate and fit with UV resistant lenses, these sunglasses are leading the way in more sustainable eyewear. Exclusive 20% off eyewear with code GEYEWEAR20. (Ends: 31 JAN)

Checkout code: GEYEWEAR20
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Afends – Denim

Denim, the foundation of Afends. Whether you like ‘em loose, straight or super baggy, they’ve got your next all-day, everyday jeans. Exclusive 20% off denim with code DENIM20. (Ends: 31 JAN)

Checkout code: DENIM20
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Born in Byron Bay, Afends is a responsible brand leading the way in hemp fashion. Drawing inspiration from the environment, streetwear, and surf culture, Afends’ mission is to create more sustainable clothing through innovation, action, and positive change. As true hemp advocates, they purchased 100 acres of farmland called Sleepy Hollow to grow their own hemp crops and ignite the hemp revolution. Explore their range made from 100% eco-conscious threads.

See the rating.

Shop Afends.

Editor's note

Feature image via ILYSM, other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world's most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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